In the midst of soaring temperatures, the union representative’s of factory workers at Renault Nissan, Chennai are demanding for heat allowance to deal with the hotter months of the summer.
What is a heat allowance?
Similar to a hardship allowance that people working in hostile conditions are entitled, Section 2(22) of the Employee State Insurance Act defines ‘wages’ as meaning:
“All remuneration paid or payable in cash to an employee, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled and includes any payment to an employee in respect of any period of authorised leave, lock out, strike which is not illegal or lay off and other additional remuneration, if any, paid at intervals not exceeding two months, but does not include-(a) any contribution paid by the employer to any pension fund or provident fund, or under this Act; (b) any travelling allowance or the value of travelling concession; (c) any sum paid to the person employed to defray special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment; or (d) any gratuity payable on discharge”.
It was observed by the Full Bench of Karnataka High Court in the case of NGEF Ltd. Vs. Dy.Regional Director, ESIC, Bangalore and The Supreme Court in the case of M/s.Harihar Polyfibers Vs. RD ESIC, Bangalore also held the same view that Heat, Gas & Dust allowance are wages under Sec.2 (22) of The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 and contribution is payable on the said amount paid by the employer to the employees.
Employers are advised to take measures in order to help worker working in hostile conditions even extreme weather conditions. As a welfare and health measure, some companies are known to provide for allowance financially, while many of the factories provide hydrating beverages such buttermilk, lemon juice etc to the employees to cope up with the rising heat. The other measures that are taken up additionally by the factories is dropping the workers to the shop floor.